Wildlife Gardening - Pest Control

(c) Paul Hetherington

Pest Patrol – Dealing with unwanted bugs in a way that won’t harm friendly species

Before you resort to manual intervention and spray your plants with pesticides, there might be a natural and more invertebrate-friendly way to deal with your pest problem. Many pesticides are also harmful to beneficial bugs so if you can avoid using them that’s better all round.

Here are some things to consider if you have insect invaders.

Are the ‘pests’ actually a problem? We’re trained to think about insects as a problem, but if they’re not actually causing any harm then why not just leave them alone? It will save a lot of invertebrate lives as well as your time and money!

Let nature take care of pest problems for you. If you have some pests you do need to deal with there might well be a predator species that will do the work on your behalf. By providing the right species with a home you can attract them to your garden.
– Aphid-munching ladybirds and lacewings like wild areas and shrubs. They hibernate in dead stems and habitat piles.
– Habitat piles and compost heaps will also encourage slug-hunting predators such as Ground Beetles, Devil’s Coach Horse and Centipedes.
– Leave wasp nests alone if their occupants aren’t bothering you. Worker wasps are great hunters of caterpillars and aphids.
– Also, a bee hotel can also provide a home for solitary wasps that don’t sting but are enthusiastic predators of various pest insects.

Try companion planting. Strongly-scented plants such as Marigolds, Sage or Lavender near vegetables and flowers can deter insect pests. Smelly nasturtiums also lure egg-laying butterflies away from cabbages.

Create barriers. It might seem too simple to be true, but actually a 60cm polythene barrier around carrots will keep out the carrot fly and slugs are unlikely to cross copper rings.

If all that fails, soapy water will do the trick. A teaspoon of washing up liquid in a gallon of water is enough to wash off aphids, mealybugs and spider mites and won’t harm your plants.

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